Dr Andy Birtwistle has launched the Start Here audio cassette label, which has been set up to bring listeners the finest in magnetic tape-based media archaeological art.

The label’s first release is Salute to Vinyl, which features the surface noise recorded from both sides of a blank long playing vinyl disc.

Copies are available here.

About Salute to Vinyl

Salute to Vinyl features the surface noise recorded from both sides of a blank long playing vinyl disc played at thirty-three and a third revolutions per minute. This sound is generated by physical contact between the turntable stylus and the moving surface of a vinyl record. The continuous sound that results from the friction between these two surfaces is interspersed with intermittent sounds produced when the stylus encounters the damaged wall of a recording groove or particles of dirt. This is the sound of vinyl, brought to you through the medium of magnetic tape.

About Start Here

The cassettes released on the Start Here label attempt to work withe the form and materiality of the cassette tape as a medium, foregrounding and celebrating its unique qualities. Start Here is all about clearing away, stripping back and emptying out, so that these qualities can be perceived and appreciated more clearly.

You can also hear about Andy’s work in the first Media, Art and Design Research Seminar, on 5th October from 1.00-2.13 in Pf06.

Noise, Agency, and the Art of the Audio Cassette

In a recently published collection on materiality in art, Petra Lange-Berndt asks, “what does it mean to give agency to the material, to follow the material and to act with the material?” My presentation aims to consider this question, focusing on the creative use of sounds produced by obsolete – or near obsolete – technologies of sound recording and reproduction.

Every sound technology has the capacity to generate as well reproduce sound: that is, the sounds usually referred to as “noise”. In the case of the cassette tape, noise is created by the oxides that coat the tape’s surface and which encode the magnetic patterns constituting the recording itself. Similarly, the distinctive surface noise of vinyl is produced by an encounter between two materials, as the needle scrapes along the walls of the recording groove. We might think of these sounds as the sound of technology itself – a sounding of the medium’s material and technological bases.

Andy’s presentation explores what the political potential of the sound of (obsolete) technology might be, explored through a discussion of material agentiality in my own creative work with audio cassettes.


Andy Birtwistle is Reader in Film and Sound in the School of Media, Art and Design at Canterbury Christ Church University and is the author of Cinesonica: Sounding Film and Video (Manchester University Press, 2010). He is also the founder of the Start Here compact cassette label, which aims to bring discerning listeners the finest in magnetic tape-based media archaeological art.